Names are often a point of controversy in genealogy. The most obvious disagreement is over spelling. Until 19th century dictionaries and mass education, spelling was mostly unstandardized. Writers might even spell the same word differently in a single sentence! Phonetic spelling was popular. Census takers were frequent abusers of our ancestors’ names for precisely these reasons.
Translating from one language to another often involved a name change. A German “Johannes” appears as “Jan” in the Polish records. If you’re not careful, you might not realize that “Gottlieb” and “Bogumił” are actually the same person. Nicknames can be particularly trying. Sally is a diminutive for Sarah, and Molly is Mary except when it’s Margaret. Polly is Molly is Mary, mostly.
This section is dedicated to interesting stories about a few of my ancestors’ unusual names. They should not only give you some insight into the individuals themselves, but especially into the families and societies in which they lived.
Setting the record straight. An article from the New York Public Library.
Much confusion from many sources.